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Ramadan in Jeddah, A City That Blend Old with the New

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Located in the central Hejaz region, western Saudi Arabia. Jeddah is a port city that lies along the Red Sea west of Mecca. It is a modern business hub and entryway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina. It is Saudi Arabia’s primary resort cities, beaches and outdoor sculptures line the coastal road; a seafront promenade anchored by the iconic King Fahd’s Fountain. The city is also famous for its historic site, Al-Balad district, which dates to the 7th century and retains traditional homes built from coral. 

Ramadan is the most important time of the year for Muslims, it marks the first revelation of the Holy Quran to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) with a month-long fasting and focus on good deeds and spiritual reflection. In the month of Ramadan, both locals and tourists in Jeddah engage in joyous street scenes and a multitude of festive events taking place all over the kingdom. 

Jeddah during Ramadan welcomes tourists to immerse themselves in this annual celebration, and the city of Jeddah presents a perfect blend of old and new. Tourist here can experience the past through decades, in the form of old Hijazi traditions, while also witnessing the modern ways in which new generations of Jeddawis observe the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.   

What to do in Jeddah during Ramadan? 

To take a trip to Jeddah during Ramadan, the best guide is to do as the locals do and conserve your energy during the day. Since fast is observed from sunrise until sunset, many shops, restaurants, and cafes will be closed during daylight. Hence the locals plan for excursions under the warm glow of gleaming famous lanterns, as sunset sees shutters hurtle open and the city crackle to life. There are many events and activities that take place all through Jeddah to celebrate Ramadan, thus there are countless interesting things that one can enjoy during the holy month Ramadan in Jeddah, including:  

  1. Visit the historic site of Al Balad 

Al Balad, meaning town, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  For a mesmeric experience into enduring Ramadan traditions of the Hijazi region, Jeddah’s historic center is a must-visit. During Ramadan and Eid celebrations, the site’s convoluted roshan balconies overlook euphoric and aromatic scenes. In the month of Ramadan, the streets of Al Balad are filled in vibrant colors, the locals wear their finest new thobes and dresses, and eat relatively sweeter food – there are date-stuffed mamouls, cream-filled gatayef pancakes, kunafa pastries and sweet dumplings known as lugaymat mostly served in Ramada. There are also dozens of stalls selling candy, popcorn, toys, and traditional games where children spend the Eid money gifted by visiting family. 

  1. Relish Local food  

After the Isha prayer in the evening, hundreds of these pop-up stalls emerge, with traders putting on the traditional Hijazi turbans and singing songs to promote popular recipes of the region. It is only during Ramadan that many of the chefs appear and command a loyal and ravenous following.  Traditional favorite foods include baleelah; boiled chickpeas served with pickles, and kibdah; fried liver cooked on order, washed down with a wide selection of fresh juices and zabeeb made of raisins and mint.  

  1. Visit Charity Bazaar 

Ramadan is the period of charity and to witness the generosity of the people in Jeddah several seasonal charity bazaars come up throughout the city. At the bazaars the local residents sell handicrafts or offer free clothing to the poor. One such bazaar that is most famous is Bisat Al Reeh at the Jeddah International Exhibition Center where the established brands give proceeds to local charities. It may surprise the visitors when they are offered food and drinks in the downtown in the minutes before sunset, as volunteers commonly gather at stop signs to hand out dates, buttermilk, water and hot meals to cars and passersby making sure that everyone can eat when it is time to break the fast.  

  1. Enjoy the Drone light show 

One of the main state-of-the-art Ramadan events is 300-drone light show. The Locals and pilgrims come in huge crowds to watch the throng of drones light up the sky. 

  1. Be a part of Jeddah Sea-front fun 

On a typical Ramadan Day only the gentle splashing of the Red Sea can be heard along Jeddah’s corniche. However, the evenings boast a soundtrack of music, merriment and occasional fireworks as the local residents throng to Jeddah’s seafront to break their fast with the evening iftar meal.  

  1. Enjoy the city festivities with family at malls and parks 

Heading to shopping malls for shopping or dining has become a part of present day Jeddah’s Ramadan culture. The popular places to enjoy with friends and families are The Mall of Arabia, Roshan Mall and Red Sea Mall. 

Even as people of different generations gather under palms decked in crescent lights, and a shimmer glow radiates from the beautiful waterfront mosques. The fundamental principle of Ramadan that is themes of spirituality and togetherness remain as strong at the corniche as they are in Al Balad.  

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